Escuela Bilingüe Internacional Preschool (EBI)
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See also: Escuela Bilingüe Internacional K-8
Hello! If you are considering raising a bilingual child, I'd recommend that you start with a language-immersion preschool (like EBI) so that when it's time for Kinder, you at least have that under your belt. Yes, a monolingual child can start at Kinder (if you decided to pursue it after-the-fact) but the studies show that earlier is better and then they can start reaping the cognitive benefits of being bilingual. The other thing that I know about EBI is that it is an IB school... something else that merits its own investigating. I wish we had known more about the IB curriculum and philosophy before committing to our particular school path. Good luck! Oakland Mom of a bilingual kid
Hi, I'm not very familiar with TRIS but would encourage you to continue your research into EBI. My son who is now in 2nd grade at EBI has attended since PreK (when he was 3 yrs old). Given that Spanish immersion is important to you, EBI is a proven way to go. Your child(ren) will be bilingual and biliterate at an early age and if they stick with it, for life. The teachers at EBI are AMAZING. In preK, they surround the kids with happiness and joy and fun yet teach them to provide Kindergarten readiness. The kids are sponges and love the environment. As the kids progress grades, they continue with their love of learning. Inquiry is a huge concept and the kids embrace it because they are interested in learning. The music program is also extraordinary. I could go on but hopefully you can see the passion in why you should pursue EBI. I believe there are information sessions and tours in the coming months. Check it out. You won't be disappointed that you spent the time. Stacy
My two children attend Escuela Bilingue Internacional. You said you are considering it the better option because of the full Spanish immersion. Yes, it is full Spanish immersion and the teachers are native Spanish speakers. The Spanish language acquisition aspect of the school is amazing. But that's actually not the best part. The IB curriculum, and the teachers' unique application of its principles and values is inspiring. The children truly develop a love of learning, inquiry, creativity, and they simply love school. In a time when our children will have access to every bit of information literally at their fingertips, it is so crucial that they learn how to learn and how to engage with what they are learning on multiple levels and really, from multiple dimensions. And the staff at EBI truly focus on that. Beyond that, the staff are warm and welcoming in a way that can only be explained by their largely non-Anglo roots. In case you could't tell, we highly recommend EBI for many many reasons. We couldn't be happier with our children's experience there.
Hi parents, We are wondering your thoughts on Spanish preschool education versus a play-based program like Montessori. We're trying to raise our daughter bilingually with Spanish, but both parents are native English speakers who are a little rusty, so we need the reinforcement of her daycare/preschool providers to help (our former nanny spoke Spanish, so our 18-month old has a firm foundation in the language). We always thought we'd do a Montessori school, but there are no Spanish Montessoris in Berkeley, where we live and work (so Renaissance is out of the question for us). Both K.I.S.S. and BAHIA seem more academic than play-based (plus, we're way down on the BAHIA waiting list), while Mi Escuelita seems more like a traditional daycare than a Montessori. Any advice from other parents who've prioritized a bilingual experience? Thank you in advance for your thoughts!
I highly recommend Escuela Bilingue Internacional in the Claremont neighborhood of Oakland.. It's a play based, dual immersion program, that goes from preschool to 6th grade. I am a teacher, and I highly prioritized bilingual education for my kids, and after lobbying unsuccessfully for 2 years in Alameda for a language immersion program I went to EBI. I actually didn't really care what language it was, I just knew that the future depends on being a global citizen, and EBI really focuses on this! The preschool is very child centered using multi-sensory activities, including a dedicated music teacher, yoga and hours of outside time. The website is www.ebinternacional.org Lissa
Hi there-- I think EBI (Escuela Bilingue Internacional) in Rockridge might be what you are looking for. We live in Berkeley, too, and our daughter is in pre-K at EBI, and we are really happy there. We actually got into BAHIA, but picked EBI as it seemed very play-based and supportive of open ended exploration, thanks to the IB curriculum (although I'm sure BAHIA's great, too). We haven't been disappointed! EBI's been a great fit for our family, and our daughter loves her school. It's also an easy commute from Berkeley. Kris
Hi! I am looking at EBI for pre-primary for my daughter, and I had a couple of questions in looking at EBI for both pre-primary and possibly elementary if it was a good fit:
1. How does EBI do with kids who have a slow-to-warm up temperment (i.e. do very well when transitioned, but aren't fast to warm up to new situations)? Anyone have a kid like this in EBI's pre-primary? Are any of the EBI pre-primary teachers especially good with these types of kids?
2. Does anyone have a kid in EBI's elementary program who is working above grade level (i.e. is EBI capable of indivualizing/accelerating curriculum for kids who are capable of moving through material quickly or like to look at things in unusual depth)? Does EBI do well with very bright kids?
3. For elementary: Do you feel EBI is good about making sure that the kids are working at at least grade level by state standards in the absence of standardized testing?
Thank you! checking out EBI
My daughter (4 years old) is in Pre-K at EBI. This is our first year at the school, and it has been a wonderful experience. To answer your questions:
1) The teachers have experience with all types of children, including slow-to-warm up kids. We found that the teachers made a point of connecting with each of the kids in my daughter's class from the very first day and regularly updated parents on how the kids were transitioning. At the start of the school year, there is a "meet the teachers" morning when the kids visit the classroom with their parents. Before that morning our daughter had been apprehensive about starting at a new school. During that classroom visit, one of the teachers sat down with her, and they made a butterfly drawing together. That butterfly changed everything for our daughter. She proudly showed it to us and was suddenly happy to give her new school a try. It has been smooth sailing since then. The classroom is well-organized, with a rhythm and routine that my daughter finds to be comfortable, interesting, and fun. We could not be happier with our experience this year.
2) Since my daughter will be in kindergarten next year we have been paying particular attention to the elementary school program. In kinder and above, the teachers work each day with students in small groups, clustered by skill level, on reading, writing, and math. This approach allows students at all levels to be appropriately challenged, including those who are working above grade level.
3) EBI is an International Baccalaureate (IB) authorized World School. The IB program is recognized internationally for its academic strength. EBI's curriculum follows the IB guidelines and is quite thorough in scope and sequence, meeting and surpassing state standards. Happy EBI Mama
In 2008, when our family was exploring preschools for our daughter, who had no prior Spanish and had very rarely been away from either parent, we had similar concerns. How would she fit in in the classroom, especially immersed in a new language? Would she be supported by the staff with enough attention and respect for her emotional needs?
What we found with EBI was no less than amazing. The pre-primary teachers (who are bilingual) are experienced, professional, paired well and offer a range of support to the children. When emotional issues require it, the teachers revert to the native language of the child to ensure understanding - though this happened a lot less that we anticipated. Our daughter thrived, picked up Spanish like a sponge, learned social skills and had her developing sense of wonder about the world nourished and supported.
Now in her fourth year at EBI, she is in first grade. I am happy to say that both of her first pre-primary (as well as her second year pre-primary and Kindergarten) teachers are still at EBI, and I canC",E!t say enough about them. Initially we came to EBI for the Spanish immersion, but equally vital to the school and consequently our daughterC",E!s growth is the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years program that provides the academic structure for the school. It is inquiry-based, gives attention to the academic, social, and physical well-being of the children while fostering a love of learning. We were told that with second language immersion programs that English reading and acquisition could be slightly behind until 3rd grade or so. This is not the case for our daughter. With the support of a fantastic kindergarten English program (even at 1 hour a day) she was reading well beyond her grade level even at the end of last year. The children are often organized in small groups relative to their levels of acquisition, specifically for reading and mathematics, so their progress is well tracked and they are appropriately challenged.
Although the admissions, curriculum director and head of school are best to answer these types of questions, it is my understanding that state law requires for schools to adhere to state standards for each grade level. Our 4 year experience (2 years in elementary) dictates that EBI classrooms not only meet but likely surpass these. Come to an information session for more specific answers Cb you won't be disappointed. A happy EBI parent
EBI! (Escuela Bilingue Internacional) It is a WONDERFUL school. Our 2 boys have been there from the age of three (they're in Kindergarten and 2 grade now). They are both fluent and can read & write in Spanish and English. I love everything about the school - the warm and huggy teachers, the thoughful education my boys are receiving, the fabulous head of the school, and the amazing parents & kids who make up the community. It is the best. We could not be happier. Una mama de dos muCJune 2008ecos
Our situation is almost identical to yours. My wife is fluent in Spanish, but I speak almost none. However, we both wanted a bilingual education for our 3 year old daughter. We ended up enrolling her at Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI), which is located on the Oakland/Berkeley border. We were very impressed by their teaching method, especially the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. While we did consider some other language schools, it seemed to us that EBI understood that while becoming bilingual is very important, it is still just one component of a complete education. Also, we found that a number of other children who attend come from households where Spanish is not the primary language spoken.
Although our daughter has only been there a short while, she is already starting to say some words in Spanish and sing some Spanish songs. We're very happy with our choice, and I would highly recommend EBI to others. Feel free to email me if you want any more information. Peter
Escuela Bilingue Internacional starts in preschool, and can stay just a preschool for your child, but also will go up to 8th grade. I'm looking forward to having fully biliterate kids who also will speak some conversational Mandarin, which is added four hours a week after third grade. - parent
Our 3 and 5 year old sons just started at Escuela Bilingue Internacional this year in Oakland, and we couldn't be happier to be there. The school and its staff are incredibly thoughtful and dedicated, providing a warm, welcoming, creative environment that our kids love! It's only been two months and already my boys, who previously had no Spanish, are absorbing the language. They are learning a tremendous amount and more importantly to us, having a lot of fun doing it. It's amazing to see their language skills blossom alongside their confidence. I highly recommend the school. Feel free to email me directly via moderator if you have more questions. We love EBI
I recently toured EBI on Alcatraz as a potential pre-school for our daughter. I love the idea of Spanish Immersion, but the facilities are not as idyllic as many of the local preschools. Also, the parent who lead our tour kept pointing out how all of the children were quiet and ''doing what they were supposed to be doing'' which I am not sure I want for pre-school. I would love input directly related to pre-school at EBI. Was there enough play during the day, was it a warm environment, etc. on the fence
I have a kindergartner at the Escuela Bilingue Internacional. Our child came to the school as a three-year-old for preschool not knowing Spanish, and rarely having been away from either my husband or myself. Not only did we find the teachers warm, loving and professional, but our daughter gained enormous self confidence. We found the PK program to be a great combination of structure and play, with many special activities and an emphasis on letting the children explore those arenas they express interest in. Additionally, the International Baccalaureate program EBI utilizes is designed to give focus to multiple aspects of a child's development: academic, physical and social/emotional, as well as helping to create community with a larger outlook. As a result, we have a child who is blossoming. She is active, imaginative, has a love of nature, is reading and writing in both Spanish and English and fascinated with the world. We are very happy with the EBI experience, and most importantly so is our child. Happy EBI Parent
I have 2 children at EBI and our family has been there since the school opened. My oldest, now in 2nd grade, started in preschool when EBI opened and our 2nd is in his 2nd year of preschool now. While the facilities may not look as idyllic as other schools, EBI has made substantial investments in the facilities over the past 5 years, resulting in a school that the children love. EBI offers a warm and loving environment that includes not only the faculty, but also the entire community, which is one of the reasons that we love it. Our family was some what hesitant at first with EBI, but have been come strong supporters of both EBI and the IB curriculum. The children have plenty of time to play and the integrated curriculum allows the children to learn even when they are playing. One last note, the parents association is actively involved in improving the building and grounds, which has resulted in many improvements and the entire community is committed to ensuring our children have the best learning environment. If you have more questions about EBI, please feel free to contact me. I would be more than happy to share our experiences. Jennifer
My boy is in his second year of EBI pre-school. He'll go to public elementary school next year, but we're going to be very sad to leave. I've never felt that the kids were pushed to quietly do what they're supposed to be doing (although I'm sure the teachers work to keep the noise level down). The younger pre-school classes are definitely looser, with the older pre-school group starting to introduce tables with a certain project on it, which the kids are encouraged to do for 5-10 minutes. There's a lot of free time, with different areas to choose from. The times that they're encouraged to do the same thing are for circle time or music/dance class, but my sense is that that's pretty standard in pre-schools. I've seen no academic pressure (which I did in my older son's Montessori pre-school) but he's started writing his name and discussing new math concepts, so they're doing some stuff.
Largely, I've seen a school that was very flexible and smart about figuring out what works with each child and how to solve problems. I often hear teachers commenting about a kid's preferences -- who they play with, which types of games/activities they gravitate toward.
Within a few weeks of starting, my boy THREW DIRT at a teacher. Twice. I was pretty nervous -- I know of pre-schools that put kids on probation for that kind of thing. They are very calm and smart about misbehavior (although, obviously, it's not tolerated).
I really like the size. It's big enough that there's a good selection of kids to make friends with (I've known kids at smaller preschools who didn't have enough kids of their age, gender, interests). Yet, every teacher/administrator knows every kid.
I also like that there's plenty of outside play time. They bring out new things to mix it up a little and when it's wet or cold, they play in the gym. anne
My son has been at EBI since it opened, and the very reason I keep him there is the incredible warmth and love he feels each and every day. He feels valued, special, and knows that his teachers and friends are looking out for him. Our daughter has been in EBI for one year in the preschool program, and she LOVES it - plenty of play time, a multitude of projects to choose from....it's very stimulating and in my experience, not so quiet. :-) But there is a structure to the day that seems to work really well for the kids...circle time, snack time, free play, story time, art...I find it to be the perfect environment for our children.
My son has learning differences and is now in 1st grade, and I can't imagine a more supportive, warm environment for him - kids are encouraged to be collaborative, to take risks, to have integrity....and it's actually part of the curriculum from Pre-K up vs just a poster on the wall. Since day one, I have felt like each of our teachers has truly known my son, and truly loved him - there is no doubt in my mind, and the ready hugs and endearments illustrate it.
My 4 year old, btw, has VERY high energy and needs lots of room for it, and totally enjoys her day. If you ask her what she did all day, she tell you played. And played. And played. I can't recommend this school enough - it's an incredible community, and a place where I know my children will feel loved and valued each and every day. A current EBI parent
First, I applaud you for reaching out to the community to ask questions about preschools that your child may attend. It is important.
I am a parent of a first time EBI student (pre-K), and my daughter has flourished at EBI. I wasn't expecting to see such profound changes in her, but I am beginning to see that is has a lot to do with the philosophy of the school, and the Spanish is just a bonus.
I think the thing my daughter is responding to so favorably is the fact that the teachers and administrators respect her. In that I mean that they assume she has smart, interesting, intuitive things to say, and the exercises in the classroom are designed to elicit her thoughts and musings. They negotiate with her and seek her input. And at the end of the day I think kids are ''well behaved'' at EBI, not because they are told what to do, but precisely because they are not told what to do.
Besides the stuff in the classroom, the entire school is supportive and active. I am delighted with the level of participation of parents and others.
I also think there is plenty of play time and free time. My daughter talks frequently of her friends and the time she spends playing with them.
Finally, she is so happy. She sings when she gets home, and she tells us about the things she is learning. She seems genuinely intrigued by what is going on at school.
I recommend EBI whole heartedly. Give it another try. Happy EBI Mom
Dear On the Fence, I am sorry that your experience on the tour of EBI was not as positive as it could have been.
I wanted to respond to your request for input relating to the pre-school at EBI. I read your post with a chuckle as I am a mother of 2 active boys who attend EBI, (one in Pre-School and the other now in K) neither of whom are quiet, nor are they predisposed to simply sit and 'do what they are supposed to be doing'. However, much to my relief and surprise, they are both capable of it when engaged by a positive and creative learning environment. And this is precisely why EBI is such a good fit for both of them.
We stumbled upon EBI when our oldest (now 5) was ready for pre-school and quickly came to realize what an incredible gift it was for him. The fact that he is now fluent in spanish is a bonus. We cannot imagine being anywhere else. He is a free spirit who was always the first to tire of circle time and ready to move to a new activity. His teachers knew this and simply worked with him. EBI has been a rewarding, nurturing and attentive environment for him. All the teachers are incredibly caring and equally determined to create a learning environment in which each child can flourish. One of the many remarkable characteristics of EBI is it's ability to cater to children with so many different temperaments, cultures and backgrounds.
As to your specific concerns about playtime: Yes there is a large period in the mid-morning when the children are able to play outdoors and explore, build, dig, ride tricycles and scooters, climb, run and garden. This is followed by lunch and then a rest/nap period. And while inside they are free to move between a wide variety of activities in different parts of the classroom.
I agree, as a visual person, that EBI's current campus at the old St Augustine's School does have it's challenges. But the dedicated parent and teacher group continues to make vast improvements and this is definitely a book and its cover scenario here. What the school's built environment may lack in aesthetics, its human experience more than compensates for with fun, openness, encouragement, warmth, creativity and support. I have come to know that how children are cared for in an environment is far more important to them than how it looks. My boys continue to remind me that laughter and play can happen anywhere regardless of the concrete to grass ratio.
Parent to parent, you cannot beat the parent community at this school!! The parents have become a such an important part of our lives and are an incredibly welcoming and caring group.
Clearly, I am an advocate for the International Baccalaureate program, EBI, its remarkable staff and school board, so that probably qualifies me as biased, or perhaps a more charitable way of putting it is that I am extremely confident in my choice of school. But, on a fundamental level, this is an incredible place for my two boys who are thriving and speaking spanish. (we speak only english at home - I have to get my game on and catch up) If they weren't having their needs met, they'd be somewhere else.
I do understand what it's like to be at that place where you are trying to determine where your child's pre-school experience will begin - wading through the options can be overwhelming when you are making such an important decision. I would be happy to contain my enthusiasm for EBI and talk with you about any of your concerns or answer any questions you have about how small fries spend their time during the school day at EBI.
Good luck with your preschool search for your little girl, I hope to meet you at the Pre-K coffee hour soon!! mom of 2 risk-taking inquirers at EBI
Warm, light hearted, organized yet playful...that's what I see time after time when I drift through our school. It is a very safe, joyful place to be. And the thrill of seeing your kid pick up language as if he were picking up pretty seashells along the shore....so very naturally....well, a parent can hardly contain herself! e.
Hi there - I am a new parent at EBI (Escuela Bilingue Internacional) and understand your concerns. I agree that the classrooms don't look like the ''typical'' preschool, especially since it is attached to an elementary school. That said - it is *above* every other preschool in many ways (and I looked at 9 schools!). The activities are varied by skills set, interest, and change every day. The classrooms are all set up with play areas that encourage learning and inquiring minds: what is a broken leg? Look in doctor's area - there are real x-rays to look at, and every child has their own surgical mask to put on too. The teachers are so warm and loving - they hug the kids, kneel down to talk to them - it feels like a home day care sometimes in that way. The best thing of all is the diversity - they have great span of children, families and cultures - much more diverse than my neighborhood in Alameda! Anyway - from another new parent, I just wanted to say - the kids are happy, engaged and love school! That was enough for me :-) Good luck in your search Alameda EBI parent
Hi, I feel like you may have gotten the wrong impression on your tour and want to help provide additional perspective about EBI. My son is in 2nd year of EBI preschool. He and we love it and could not imagine another option.
''Is it too rigid'' is part of your question. Learning at EBI at this age happens in many forms - some of it through play, music, and dance. Scheduled recess times (outside or in the gym for weather reasons) are incorporated into the daily schedule. Keep in mind though EBI is not a daycare -- the kids are really learning and they are learning amazing things. Many preschools do not have the same learning objectives that EBI does. EBI is preparing children to be life-long learners from an early age but certainly play, art, music, dance are intermixed and supportive of the learning objectives. The teachers are there to teach and so you witnessed a component of a class where children were either listening or following instructions to work on a project. This is a commendable example of how students want to learn and can focus at this age and how EBI teachers bring this out in the kids. Still, teachers customize content and lessons to each child's learning needs and differences as needed.
You also asked about ''warmth'' of teachers. I cannot say enough about the amazing teachers and staff. My husband and I both work full time and my son is at EBI for approx 10 hours most days. I know he receives love, hugs, close attention, interest, and warm care far superior to what I could imagine in any other school.
You also mentioned facilities. The EBI building may not be shiny and new but it is well maintained and updated. A huge plus from other preschools we visited early on is the large space for each classrooms. The EBI space is enormous really and children have access to space beyond their individual class for certain activities, including the library, the gym, a large cafeteria, and of course the playground.
I hope this helps you reconsider your opinion. I'd encourage you to come to an Open House and speak to more parents. Stacy
As a parent who has had a child at EBI for the last 3 years (including this year), I can say that my experience there has been quite different from your impression. They play a lot in the preschool and are very committed to giving the children an individualized education that is not about kids sitting quietly and ''doing what they are supposed to be doing''. The faculty and community both are extremely supportive and committed. I could not recommend it more highly. Ann
Dear Parent, I am happy to address these very important questions. I am a parent of two EBI children. As someone who has taught in numerous and diverse Bay Area schools for over 10 years, (public and private), I am confident in and ecstatic at having chosen EBI as our school. Initially we were interested in EBI because a bilingual, bi-literate education is important to our family. Nonetheless, we fell in love with the school for many reasons. The International Baccalaureate curriculum is unlike any school curriculum I have ever seen. Rather than taking every subject separately, and teaching along to a textbook, all subjects are integrated within a sequence of units of inquiry, in which students explore a central theme, finding connections not only within all subjects, but also in life. Students become critical and independent thinkers, and I've seen this first-hand in my own children, as their intellectual curiosity has extended to everything they do. Yes, the students learn so much but not so that they can test well. EBI's goal is much more important: to nurture responsible, thoughtful, enterprising world citizens.
As for "quietly doing what they are told", I am very surprised your guide's comment, as EBI promotes questions, dialogue, and active - not passive - participation in all students. The warm, superb community of staff and families additionally gives students the safety and support to be fearless, motivated learners.
What do my children have to say? They love their school, their classmates, their teachers, and LOOK FORWARD to going to EBI every day (no kidding). Our 3.5 year-old doesn't even wave goodbye to me when she arrives in the morning. Sigh.
I invite you to please come again and take another tour, as I think you may see EBI differently. Anita
I have a child at EBI and she loves it. From the time we pull into the parking lot, there is a staff member or parent welcoming all children. John Fulk, Head of school, is almost always out in the front welcoming all children in the morning. It is so amazing that he knows every childs name. You can tell the children are feeling good when welcomed in the morning. My child is definitely not quiet in classroom and moves around ALOT. The teacher has a way of working with my childs individuality without forcing my child to fit into a typical mold of ''how its supposed to be,learn /happen''. Because of the dedicated staff, their patience, commitment to success, fun personality, my child is happy about school for the first time ever. My child is a first time EBI student with out any previous spanish vocabulary and can now understand most of what is being comunicated in just 3 months. Her confidence has only grown since attending EBI. After I drop off in the morning or after leaving a parent meeting, or whatever at the school, I walk away thinking how lucky we are to have such an amazing school, staff and community of parents at EBI. The Halloween parade was AMAZING! The children put the parade on, created a dance and performed for all the parents. AMAZING!!! We just had special GrandPersons Day, celebrating the special people in our childrens life. Those Grandpersons, attended school that day and a special presentation happened. Things like that make our school community tighter. Parents together, talking, you feel community. In end, EBI is an amazing school and every day I know how wonderfull it is that our child attends, and likes attending, EBI. C.
Re: Spanish or bilingual co-op preschool in Berkeley
Our daughter attended EBI in Oakland for preschool. We loved it so much, we enrolled her in Kindergarten. We were very impressed with the teachers; they are warm, creative and dedicated. And the new head of school is fantastic! He inately understands the needs of the kids, parents and staff and does a beautiful job balancing them while ensuring the school is delivering an excellent education in a loving environment. The community of